Proclamation of the Independence and the Philippine Flag
Compiled by Rodolfo A. Arizala
Santiago, Chile 10 June 2008
On the 110th anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence, 12 June 2008, there are relevant questions which need answers or cxplanations. For example, 1. What kind of government we have when the Proclamation of Indpendence was declared? 2. Why said Proclamation did not have the signature of President Emilio Aguinaldo? 3. When was the inauguration of that Proclmation held? 4. When was the Philippine flag designed and made in Hong Kong first unfurled? 5. Why did President Diosdado Macapagal change our observance of Independence Day from 4 July to 12 June? 6. What kind of Navy has General Aguinaldo?
1. The flag that Gen Emilio Aguinaldo personally brought from Hong Kong to the Philippines was unfurled for the first time on 12 June 1898 but on 28 May 1898 to commemorate the victory of the Filipino forces over the Spanish Marine Corps in the “Battle of Alapan”. This was followed in the hoisting of the Philippine flag when the Filipino forces also defeated the Spanish forces in the “Battle of Polvorin”, Binakayan, Kawit in Cavite on 31 May 1898.
2. Gen Aguinaldo in his Memoires wrote that on 1 June 1898, the Philippine flags were hoisted at the masts of Philippine naval ships. In his words:
“In accordance with the instructions I gave on June 1st, all the Philippine vessels hoisted the national flag. . . Ah! What a beautiful and joyful spectacle that the flag floated in the breeze at the height of the big masts of our vessels, side by side in same way, with the colors of the bigger nations, where the powerful battleships allowed our small cruisers draped with the emblem of Liberty and Independence to pass!”
What was the reaction of U.S. Admiral Dewey on such Filipino navy flying the Philippine flag along with the battleships of the big powers on Manila Bay?
The following is the account of Aguinaldo on the subject in his Memoires:
“At the end of June, I went to see Admiral Dewey who after having complimented me for the rapid victories of the Philippine revolution, told me that the German and French Admirals asked why he allowed the Filipinos to fly over their vessels a flag that was not recognized. Admiral Dewey, told me that it was with his knowledge and consent that the Filipinos were using this flag, and besides, he believed that the courage and firmness that they have shown in the war against Spain gave the Filipinos the right to have this flag.”
In this connection, it may be of interest to readers to know what the Aguinaldo Navy consisted of at that time. It consisted of eight small Spanish steamers captured by the Aguinaldo forces; five bigger vessels such as the Taaleno, the Balayan, the Taal, the Bulacan, and the Purisima Concepcion. In addition to these vessels, three vessels were offered by native Filipinos to the Aguinaldo forces which were equipped with 8 to 9 centimeter cannons taken from the Spanish naval vessels that were sunk.
3. The Philippine flag was again hoisted or “unfurled” on 12 June 1898 during the Proclamation of Philippine Independence read by Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista.
4. Originally, 98 persons signed the Proclamation of Philippine Independence, including an American Col. L.M. Johnson of the U.S. Artillery Corps. Admiral Dewey was invited to attend the inaugural ceremonies of Philippine Independence but Dewey excused himself saying that on that date was “mail day” and he could not leave the ship.
5. It is interesting to note that Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo did not sign the Proclamation of Philippine Independence. Why?
Some historians opined “perhaps out of delicadeza because he was the Generalissimo of the armed forces, or perhaps he wanted to show that the document was drawn up without any pressure on his part.” (Carlos Quirino, “From Pugad Lawin to Kawit”.)
6. How was the Proclamation of Independence on 12 June 1898 celebrated? Hereunder is an account by one who witnessed said historic occasion:
“It was a Sunday, June 12, between four and five o´ clock in the afternoon when Aguinaldo, 29, dictator and generalissimo, instructed the venerable Rianzares Bautista, 68, to read his own Acta de la proclamation de independencia del pueblo Filipino before a throng of 5,000 to 6,000 that had gathered in the principal street and under the giant trees in front of the Aguinaldo mansion in Cavite el Viejo. The people had come from far and near, including delegations from the liberated provinces of Laguna, Batangas, Tayabas, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, and Pangasinan, besides all the towns of Cavite province itself and the suburbs of Manila, already under siege by the rebels.
“A festive air hung over the town of Cavite el Viejo that Sunday. Brass bands were serenading the town hall and the convent – both occupied by Filipino troops. Rockets and versos (mortars with blank charges) were exploding with increasing frequency. The main street was beginning to fill up with people, mostly women and children. For nearly every male adult in the town was in uniform . . . guarding headquarters, manning trenches, or being helpful to arriving dignitaries. In his gabled house on the main street General Aguinaldo was receiving field commanders amid the triumph of Filipino arms in nearly every sector of Central Luzon and the Southern Tagalog provinces.”
(E. Aguilar Cruz, “Inauguration 1898.” In June 12, 1975 souvenir program entitled: “12 June 1898. The Philippines: Asia´s First Democratic Republic,”p.5.)
“Immediately after the reading of the proclamtion Aguinaldo detached himself from the dignitaries and stepped forward, right at the very center of the middle window, and was greeted with deafening shouts of ´Mabuhay si Heneral Aguinaldo! Mabuhay ang Kalayaan ng Pilipinas!” (Alfredo B. Saulo, “Emilio Aguinaldo Generalissimo and President of the First Philippine Republic”, Phoenix Press, Inc., Quezon City, 1983.)
7. From 1946 to 1962, we celebrated our Independence day on July 4 because it was on July 4, 1946 that the United States granted us our independence. However, in 1962, President Diosdado Macapagal proclaimed 12 June as Philippine Independence Day. And on 4 August 1964, President Macapagal signed Republic Act No. 4166 declaring June 12 as Philippine Independence Day.
According to Pres Diosdado Macapagal: “A nation is born into freedom on the day when such a people, molded into a nation by a process of cultural evolution and sense of oneness born of common struggle and suffering, announces to the world that it asserts its natural right to liberty and is ready to defend it with blood, life and honor.”
To summarize, the Philippine flag was not unfurled or raised for the first time on 12 June 1898, but on 28 May 1898, at the battle of Alapan when the Aguinaldo forces won said battle over the Spanish forces.
The Independence proclaimed by Rianzares on 12 June 1898 was under a “dictatorial” government under the protection of the United States of America, not signed by General Aguinaldo.
The inauguration of 12 June 1898 Proclamation of Independence was not held in the morning but in the afternoon to wait for representatives from the provinces to arrive..
Gen. Emilio Aguiinaldo armed forces has a navy and even allowed by Admiral Dewey to fly the Philippine flag at Manila Bay alongside with U.S. and other foreign vessels.
Our celebration of Independence was changed from 4 July to 12 June in 1962, because according to Pres, Diosdado Macapagal what is important is when a nation “announces to the world that it asserts its natural right to liberty and is ready to defend it with blood, life and honor.”
On this 110th anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence, “Mabuhay ang ating bansa at sambayanang Pilipino!”